Cleaning Roof Shingles

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From New to Dirty & Dirty to Clean

We all know the feeling of owning something brand new. Whatever it is whether it be a car, a new pair of shoes, clothes, or a new roof it feels nice, new and clean. On the other hand we all also understand that new things don't stay new forever.

Roofs are exactly the same. The day the roof was finished it looked so pristine, clean and new. Years later the roof may start looking older and may even need cleaning. This page has been created to aid those who are thinking about cleaning roof shingles by themselves or through a professional roof shingle cleaning company.

*We recently wrote an article on how to clean vinyl siding. Hopefully it will help you if you need to clean your vinyl siding.

New Article: Do Gutter Guards Work?

What Causes Roof Shingles To Get Dirty: How To Clean Them

There are many things that cause roof shingles to get dirty and unsightly. Here we are going to focus on the main causes of dirty shingles.

* This guide is good for cleaning architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles.

Falling Debris

debris on roofsFalling debris from trees is probably the number one cause of dirty roof shingles. Some of the most common types of debris that ends up on roofs are leafs, sticks and branches, pine straw, and acorns. Some of the debris falls on the roof, some of it is blown on the roofs, and other debris is brought there by animals such as birds and squirrels.

Negative Consequences of Debris on Roof Tops

  1. Debris looks bad on the roof.
  2. Most everyone cares that their homes look good and a dirty roof obviously does not look very kept up or nice.

  3. Debris can cause roof damage and roof leaks.
  4. Some people wonder how a bunch of leafs and sticks can damage a roof. The answer to this inquiry is that the leafs, sticks, and debris can create a dam that blocks rainfall from leaving the roof top. When this happens a buildup of water sits and can backup underneath the shingles. This will cause leaks, rotting in the roof decking and can even leak inside the interior of the home causing water damage in walls, sheetrock, floors, and so forth. It is very important to make sure that roofs are regularly cleaned by removing debris.

Best Ways To Clean Debris Off of Roofs

  1. By Hand
  2. Debris is often light and doesn’t require heavy equipment to remove it. One of the easiest ways to remove debris from off of a room is with your hands. This may require you to get onto your roof. Remember to always be aware of proper roof safety procedures because you can fall off of a roof and seriously injure yourself and or die.

  3. With a blower
  4. Another easy way to remove leafs, sticks, and other debris from the roof is with a blower. If you have access to an air blower, then feel free to use it to blow off the debris. For many, this is a preferred method because it doesn’t require much bending over or getting dirty.

  5. A soft broom or brush
  6. Remember that when using a broom or brush on your roof that you don’t want to apply too much pressure. Too much pressure can remove roof granules which will reduce the life of the roof.

Algae or Black Stains

black roof stainsMany people are very aware of the black stains that often appear on roof tops. People who are suffering from black stains often ask what the black stains are and wonder if it is damaging their roof. This “roof mold” is actually dead algae on the shingles. Black stains or this dead algae appears on the north side of roofs because it doesn’t get as much sun and thus remains more damp for a longer amount of time.

Can The Algae Harm The Roof

Not really. By that we mean that the algae simply feeds off of the limestone that is in the asphalt shingles but it doesn’t really damage the shingle. Black stains or a.k.a “Roof Mold” is more of a cosmetic problem.

*Tip: One way to prevent algae growth on roof tops is to get algae resistant shingles. This will only work when you are getting a roof replacement or a new roof installed on a brand new home.

How To Clean The Black Stains

In order to clean the black stains off of the roof you will need to apply the right cleaning solutions. There are many DIY solutions that people swear by. Some of these include bleach, hot water, soap, and other chemicals. Before applying any type of chemical or cleaning solution to the roof check with a professional, your shingle warranty, and test it on some spare shingles that you may have or you can buy. Remember you can always buy a bundle of shingles from a local home depote, lowes, or roofing supplier for around $28. It will be worth your investment to know that your algae roof cleaning solution is safe.

Check out some DIY roof cleaner recipes on one of our pages about cleaning moss off of roofs!

Don’t Do!

Do not take a pressure washer and try to pressure wash your black roof stains away. Pressure washing a roof is a big no no. In fact, if you pressure wash your roof you will most likely no longer qualify for your roofs warranty. Pressure washing roofs can blow off the granules that are there to protect the asphalt in the shingle from the UV rays of the sun. A lot of missing granules is a sign that it is time to replace your roof.


First off, we would like to point you to one of our more comprehensive articles about removing moss on roofs. The article goes into detail talking about what moss is, how to kill it, how to prevent it, and what negative consequences come as a result of it being on your shingle roof.

Many people think that moss looks neat on roof tops but regardless of how it looks it can seriously damage the roof and the structure of the building by allowing leaks through the shingle roof.


This is a basic list of risks that you should be aware of when cleaning roof shingles yourself or are getting your roof cleaned. If you are an expert in this field and would like to add some risks that we have not included, please apply to become an expert for

  1. You may fall off of your roof. Many people fall off of roofs while cleaning roof shingles.. Roofs are steep and can get extremely slick with water and cleaning solutions on them.
  2. If you use your own, none tested cleaning solution, you may ruin your shingles.
  3. Some roof cleaning solutions can damage plant life as it drains off of the roof.
  4. Do not use a pressure washer to clean your roof. Pressure washers are known to remove the granules on roofs which will dramatically reduce the life of your roof.
  5. Walking on your roof can loosen granules & tear shingles (depending on the age of your roof).
  6. Scrubbing shingles with a stiff brush or broom can cause shingles to tear or granules to be dislodged. Be careful if you decide to scrub. We don’t recommend scrubbing shingles in order to clean them.

Join Our Facebook Roofing Group

Hey everybody,

We are going social and have created a new Facebook group for people who want to know more about roofs, roofing problems, fixes, ask pros, etc. Feel free to join. It is a private group so once we get your request to join we will approve it as quickly as possible.

→ Join Here: Roofpedia Facebook Group!


FAQ article from a local roofing company in Baltimore, MD -

An article talking about roof debris from an oregon roofing company - Roof Life in Oregon